Thaksin denies backing new Thai party

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BANGKOK (Thomson Financial) - Ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra
denied that he was financing the upstart People Power Party, which has been
taken over by his allies, his lawyer said Thursday.
    More than 270 former lawmakers from Thaksin's now-defunct Thai Rak Thai
party have taken over the once-obscure People Power in hopes of turning it into
a vehicle for their comeback in general elections on December 23.
    But Thaksin's lawyer Noppadon Pattama said the exiled billionaire was not
financing the movement.
    "Thaksin is not supporting the People Power Party, and he is not financially
supporting the party. Most of his money has been frozen," Noppadon told
reporters.
    Noppadon, who is the deputy secretary general of the new party, also said
that Thaksin had fired his Washington lobbyists and stopped giving interviews to
international media as a gesture of reconciliation with the military.
    "Thaksin has called for reconciliation. It's not necessary to be enemies in
the political arena. He is concerned about the elections, but he hopes that free
and fair elections will be held as scheduled," the lawyer said.
    Despite Thaksin's denial of financial aid for People Power, the party's new
leader, Samak Sundaravej, has openly admitted that he is a proxy for the fallen
premier.
    Samak told party members as well as local media that Thaksin personally
asked him to "carry the torch" in the elections.
    Thaksin himself has been barred from running for office for five years by
the same military-appointed court that dissolved Thai Rak Thai.
    Army-installed graft busters have been investigating a dozen claims of
corruption against him and frozen some 65 billion baht of his assets.
    Thaksin has been living in exile in the UK, where he has bought the
Manchester City football club.
    afp/zr

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